Hubby and I got our first vaccine two days ago. Astra Zeneca, our least preferred option, but it’s not a time to act all choosy and I am truly grateful for this. But the 48 hours following were not physically pleasant. Alternating sweats and chills, dizziness and nausea, depleted energy levels, brain fog, muscle and joint aches, headache. Hubby adds in a cough. My extra is earache. The sore left arm goes without saying.
I’m not playing for sympathy. I actually laughed throughout this experience. For me this was like revisiting how years, decades even, of my life used to feel. Mild covid-like symptoms are quite like ME/CFS. So I laughed because I knew this would be temporary; it was explicable and expected. These days short-lived illnesses feel like light relief, against a backdrop of chronic illness with no obvious cause or treatment. I think it’s the ‘chronic’ part, rather than the actual ‘illness’, that’s the most challenging aspect of a chronic illness. It’s so hard to live with a long term perspective. We all want a quick fix, a fast result, a predictable outcome.
But all things pass, it’s just that some take longer than others. Yesterday I could barely walk to the end of the street, today after work I took myself to the park and played yoga shapes for more than an hour in the sunshine.
I started out with zero expectations, just happy to be there, lying on my back with my feet in the air, enjoying the feeling of the breeze on the sensitive soles of my feet and the sunlight gently warming my face. It felt like a resurrection or a rebirth. I took time to allow my body to soften onto the grass, melt a little tension away, nourish myself with some breaths of fresh air. I didn’t intend to actually do anything. Being there felt enough. But I had in my mind some words from the two teachers I practice asana with. Both asking me to consider where was the joy in my practice. Clearly they didn’t see it. So I asked myself: did I ever feel it? How would moving joyfully feel? Would I recognise it, even?
I tried to let my body take the lead on this. These aren’t questions my thinking brain can answer on its own. I just began rolling around, taking note of any positive, welcome experiences. In the environment: the smell of the grass and the rustle of wind in leaves. Then tuning into my body: the sense of stability in my connection with the earth, the feel of muscles beginning to awaken and respond as I shifted my weight around, eventually coming to standing. Some physical patterns now seem hardwired — warrior 2, side angle, triangle, reverse the warrior, downward facing dog. In my mind I heard my own voice instructing my students, my teachers’ voices guiding me… But different this time. There was no instruction, there was only pattern and rhythm, breathing and moving, me and the trees.
My body yearned to stretch, to open, to reveal itself. All the areas I hold tension cried out silently for some relief, I heard them in the simple impulse to move — hips, belly, neck and shoulders. I tried just to surrender to that need, letting go of technicalities, memorised alignment cues, or sequencing principles. I just bathed in the sunshine and my own physicality.
I recalled these song lyrics:
Feel the pulse
Feel the rhythm
See a light in the dark
A new world to be discovered
It’s alive in that spark
… Surrender to be free
Sometimes it’s the discipline of my yoga that feels like a safe container for all sorts of tricky explorations I would otherwise not dare to approach. Today the opposite, deliberately freeform, without the constraint of a sticky mat or any expectations or rules. It felt so good and so me. Maybe I’ve internalised all the instruction that I really need and I can let my own body be the teacher?
Today I am just a little bit in awe of myself 😉
Song lyrics by Lissie